Teachers want a room with a brew

4th April 2008 at 01:00
Rebuilding and refurbishments mean teachers have to manage without traditional staffrooms

The staffroom was once a private sanctuary where teachers could chat over a cup of tea and plan their lessons - free from pupils.

But some new schools are deliberately omitting them from their building plans, while others are converting existing ones into shared areas for teachers and pupils.

The Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough sparked controversy when it opened last year. It had no playground or staffroom. Instead, it provided office space in each of its six colleges.

Meanwhile, the Nailsea School in Bristol had to rethink its plans after complaints from teachers about the lack of a staffroom.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has heard several complaints from members about similar plans. Dr Mary Bousted, the union's general secretary, said: "All these trendy architects and designers who are building schools without staffrooms should be forced to go and teach in them for a year.

"They have no idea of the stresses and strains of working in schools with children all day."

The Harrodian, a 900-pupil independent school in Barnes, south-west London, has expanded so rapidly that it has been unable to have a separate staffroom and common room. But Ofsted inspectors said this had created a closer relationship between staff and pupils.

Loretta Brodie, its librarian and exams officer, can see the benefits, but said: "I think it would be good for staff and students to have somewhere to get away from each other."

In a TES survey last year of 5,000 teachers, assistants and heads, 44 said they had no central staffroom, and most of those said they would like to have a staffroom so that they would have a space to chat with other staff, prepare lessons or read.

Wendy Haslam, an infant teacher at the 63-pupil Marston Montgomery Primary in Derbyshire, said her school had money to build an extension last year. Staff and governors opted for a foundation stage classroom rather than a staffroom.

"We felt the best use of space was for the children," she said. "But sometimes it would be nice to be able to go somewhere and make your own cup of tea."

The 20 staff and 79 pupils of St Andrew's Primary in North Pickenham, Norfolk, will this month move into new buildings with a staffroom after 50 years in an unfinished building. A former cloakroom was used as an office for the secretaries, while another tiny room housed the photocopier, printer, kettle, as well as the head, Jeni Barnacle, whenever she needed an office. She said: "The staff loos are the best place to get away because you can lock the door and it's bigger than the photocopier room."

Bitching or bonding?

Magazine, page 20

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